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Criticizing Buddhism


Jun
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Jun,

 

Thank you very much for the kind words. I think you do just fine putting things into words, this thread is teaching me a lot. :thanks:

 

Namaste

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Before I answer, I just want to clarify. I’m only criticizing Buddhism because Jun asked for honest criticisms. I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about this school of thought or whatever you want to call it. If others wish to follow it or take on the label, I don’t care. It doesn’t seem harmful like most religions. I’m trying to learn about it by the responses here, but I’m also approaching this as a skeptic, so please don’t be offended. I have no motivation beyond this.

 

Don't worry, I won't be. :)

 

Because I don’t need to. My mother told me these things when I was 6. If she hadn’t, I could have figured them out on my own. Perhaps Buddha was as wise as everyone says, but from the little of his teachings I’ve seen so far, a child could figure them out.

 

YES! YES! That's it! That's what Buddha meant by being a "light unto yourself" and that "Everyone has a Buddha nature." A child CAN figure this out, without hearing about the Suttas or the Dharma.

 

You really don't "need" the Buddha. Christianity taught that you NEED Jesus in order for your life to work or great misfortune will befall you, but in Buddhism, that's the anathema to the teachings. The teachings are trying to make you sit up and figure it out for yourself. Nobody taught Siddhartha how to be a Buddha, and he didn't want to be needed. He was extremely clear on this and strict with his followers on that point. There are tons of stories where he has rebuked people coming to him looking to him to fix things for them. That's not what he taught. This is why his last words were "Be a light unto yourselves."

 

People don't want to be lights unto themselves. They want easy answers and fixes, not having to sit with their problems until they figure out how to deal with it and let them go. Yes, with effort they could fix their own problems, but people naturally don't want to because that is rather painful and difficult. That's why religions are so popular. SOMEBODY out there has to have The Answer, right?

 

Buddha's point was "YOU do."

 

 

If I were ever to adopt a particular paradigm for viewing the world, I would hope that it gave me some advantage over commonality. So far I don’t see how Buddhism does that.

 

What kind of "advantage" are you looking for? As you said, you can figure it out on your own or a child can figure it out on their own without being a "Buddhist."

 

Again, if it works for you, then I think it’s great. My criticism here is that any adopted paradigm causes one to view the world through that point of view at the expense of other competing paradigms. We all have them, but when we accept one as a label, such as Buddhist, Christian, Communist [insert your preferred ist or ism] then we become biased. Personally, I don’t want to walk through life wondering “what would Buddha do?” I realize you guys don’t see him as anything but a wise teacher. But when you adopt the label, it seems that you adopt his philosophy in your approach to any given situation in life.

 

I think you understand the Dharma a lot better than you think you do.

 

As Jun said a few posts back, the concept of "Buddhism" and "Buddhist" are Western lables. There is no concept of this in the East. I think part of this is because in English communication goes a lot easier if there is a descriptive word, and "ists" and "isms" are the most common ways to do it. I honestly can't think of any other way to succinctly tell somebody what it is I follow without it getting really confusing. But I agree with you 100%, it is also unfortunately a big part of our culture to get our identies wrapped up in those types of descriptives and it tends to leave you open to emotional wounds and bias.

 

Wrapping yourself in a lable is wrapping yourself in your ego. The teachings are designed to try to push you past the ego and look at the bigger picture beyond yourself. No more "Me, mine, myself, and I." Like with your job stock analysis, you want to be looking at what's going on at that present moment without a bias or you could end up making a costly mistake.

 

If you think Siddhartha was a fool, it doesn't affect Siddhartha. He's been dead for years. Somebody telling you you are an idiot for following/not following the Dharma may insult you and make you mad, but it doesn't change the fact that life has a lot of suffering and going to extremes of anything doesn't benefit you very often. Being a Buddhist isn't going to make you more elite than anybody else because nobody "needs" the Buddha. They can figure it out for themselves. This is strongly supported by how many different religions that have never heard of each other ended up "inventing" the same basic revelations.

 

Definately, you do not become a "Buddhist."

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Thanks Jun and Kurari, interesting answers. I suppose I need to put "reading more on Buddhism" on my list of to dos when I get the chance.

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Personally, I identify much more with Socrates and Aristotle (and, to a lesser extent, the cynics and stoics) than the Buddha. I understand his philosophy and agree with most of it, but the western philosophers "speak my language" in a way Siddhārtha doesn't.

 

Chalk it up to the cultural divide between east and west, I suppose.

 

 

Ah, a Eudaimonist or an Objectivist in the making :)

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Jun, it was asked several posts ago if you can recommend any books on this subject. If you answered, I apologize, but I did not see it.

Since you mentioned there are four types of buddhism, I am curious as to the correct texts. Thanks!

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Jun, it was asked several posts ago if you can recommend any books on this subject. If you answered, I apologize, but I did not see it.

Since you mentioned there are four types of buddhism, I am curious as to the correct texts. Thanks!

 

I'm afraid I cannot recommend any books, not in English anyhow, I've not read any.

 

A book that has been recommended by my students is the "Idiots Guide to Zen Living." I seem to remember recommending this book to Varokhar last year? If he has read it, perhaps he would let us know what he thought?

 

I tend to stay away from books about Buddhism. If you can find a copy of the Dhammapada, that is good, but heavy. As for correct texts, there aren't any! Maybe someone else here has a recommendation - Kurari, Gramps?

 

Oh, I just remembered, Gramps recommended the books of Stephen Batchelor (Zen monk?) to me. Perhaps Gramps can give us the titles and a quick review?

 

http://www.buddhanet.net/ - This site on Buddhism is ok, it has PDF texts for reading and various other multimedia files. It does, however, cover all forms of "Buddhism" - including those I'm loath to label as such. Still, a good starters resource in English I guess.

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I was more or less wondering if there was a text containing the philosophies of Buddhism, not necessarily about Buddhism.

I hope I don't sound confusing. :HaHa:

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I was more or less wondering if there was a text containing the philosophies of Buddhism, not necessarily about Buddhism.

I hope I don't sound confusing. :HaHa:

 

Try here - http://www.budaedu.org/en/book/II-02main.php3

 

They have books in English, and they are free. They will ship it to you from Taiwan.

 

Works by Ven. Ajahn Chah or Ven. Master Chin Kung are highly recommended these days.

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Hey that's awesome!!! Thank you!! :thanks:

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Hey that's awesome!!! Thank you!! :thanks:

 

The Dharma, after all, is free. No-one should be expected to pay anything to learn about it. That also goes for Buddhist study groups, temples, retreats, lectures, classes, .....................

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I've really enjoyed reading through this thread this morning.

 

I used to see Buddhism as having a very negative baseline - and also wondered why the commonality of joy wasn't emphasised instead, understanding that the first noble truth was better translated as simply an acknowledgement of suffering rather than a suggestion that life is all about suffering, changed my perception of Buddhism. I struggled for a long time over the use of the word 'attachment' - which I had always seen as a positive word, especially coming from a background of assessment of parent-child relationships in which the absence of secure 'attachment' is so problematic. Substituting the words 'grasping' or 'craving' helped me to see the value in changing my relationship to the things I 'desire' - so that my happiness comes from the enjoyment they happen to bring instead of being addicted to their pursuit and craving them as a mean to relieve the suffering their withdrawal would create. I used to have concerns that dropping my craving for things would result in a sort of flattened emotional life.

 

I encountered the notion of shedding one's reliance on desire, not directly through Buddhism but through another writer who was influenced by Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and psychology. At first I thought this route would lead to a 'passionless' dulled kind of existence. No pain but no pleasure either! It took me a while to come to an understanding that no longer being reliant on the things I love actually freed me up to enjoy the things I love more.

 

Jun, a little while back you said …

 

Rituals have no place in Buddhism. Superstition has no place in Buddhism. Fixed rigid rules have no place in Buddhism.

 

Just seeking some clarity here ... You were you meaning by this paragraph that rituals are sometimes OK? I've come to see the value in some things that I used to dismiss, so if a ritual helps a person to find a better life for themselves then that would be OK within buddhism – and it would only be in conflict with the teachings of Buddha if someone hadn’t arrived at the use of a particular ritual by their own light and then ‘relied’ on the practice to achieve salvation? If Buddhism has no fixed rigid rules then there is a place for some flexibility around rituals right?

 

I used to look down on the use of 'rituals' - especially having been raised as a martyr conscious protestant, till I woke up to the fact that the protestant church had its own rituals and just looked down on catholic ones! Rituals can of course be totally non-religious and non-superstitious – they are just anchors to altered states and we all use them on a regular basis whether we are conscious of them or not! I'm quite into romantic rituals but I know my marriage will be doomed the day I muddle up the ritual for the things they represent!

 

I’m interested in moments when ‘the penny drops’. There are different levels of understanding those common sense teachings that some of us learn at our grandmother’s knee. There is ‘yeah – I hear that’ and ‘ahhh – now I really get that’. I find the way Buddhism and other eastern philosophies set out their teaching generally cranks up the number of those kinds of moments for me.

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Jun, a little while back you said …

 

Rituals have no place in Buddhism. Superstition has no place in Buddhism. Fixed rigid rules have no place in Buddhism.

 

Just seeking some clarity here ... You were you meaning by this paragraph that rituals are sometimes OK? I've come to see the value in some things that I used to dismiss, so if a ritual helps a person to find a better life for themselves then that would be OK within buddhism – and it would only be in conflict with the teachings of Buddha if someone hadn’t arrived at the use of a particular ritual by their own light and then ‘relied’ on the practice to achieve salvation? If Buddhism has no fixed rigid rules then there is a place for some flexibility around rituals right?

 

When I first travelled to Japan to live, I became interested in Buddhism. I hadn't read anything or studied up on the teachings. I stayed at the Kongobuji which is the headquarters for Shingon-shu esoteric Buddhism way up in the mountains. Shingon-shu is Vajrayana (esoteric, tantric) the same as what the Tibetans practice. Esoteric Buddhism is a mystical, magical incantation based belief system which has transformed the teachings of the Buddha into a religion with magical rituals and incantations, initiation ceremonies, secret hidden teachings, a vast array of iconic imagery and other such nonsense. I was attracted at first by the rich imagery and the secret magical hand signs that had to be learned and used to "empower" one during rituals. For a time I was content to learn all those rituals and fancy secret teachings. We would go out in our magical robes begging and doing the alms rounds. We would practice circumbulating the temples around the mountains, training with the Shugenja (mountain mystics, sometimes called Yamabushi). The rituals were gruelling. There were long fire rituals, walking on hot coals, climbing steep mountains, swinging a heavy sword around 10,000 times............they were harsh.

 

Then one day I came across an old man tilling a field. He was surprised to see a gaijin (foreigner) in the Shingon-shu robes and laughed a lot. "Have you found satori yet?" he asked me. "I replied that it may take a long time to reach satori and many more rituals and incantations. He smiled and said, "Oh you don't need rituals and magic to reach satori, you need only to open your eyes." My ego was just as big back then as when I was a Christian, and I laughed it off and returned to the temple.

 

The next week I saw him again, and he said the same thing. And the next week, and the next.......it went on like that and it was making me a bit mad. Why couldn't this stupid peasant get it? What does he think us monks do? Nothing? We are up all hours chanting, climbing, performing rituals. He can't have any idea.

 

I think it was a month later that my teacher said that a prominant Zen master was visiting that afternoon, he was going to hand back a statue to the temple that had been found in his temple during some excavations. We were all robed up and had our ritual alters cleaned up. And what do you know, it was the old peasant! He handed over the statue, there was a little banquet, and as he was leaving he came over to me and said "Have you found satori yet?" I was both angry and amused, bewildered and embarrassed.

 

I went to visit him the next day, this time to question him more about why he kept asking me the same question and poking fun at a fellow monk. I'll never forget his words. "Oh, I live Buddhism, you just dance Buddhism." He said. He took me for a tour of his temple. No paintings, no ritual alters, no gold lacquered Buddha statues, no large meeting halls and prayer rooms - just one rather small room with some cushions and a small old black statue. I was confused. This is a Buddhist temple? I hadn't travelled about much - the only temples I knew were those I had trained in for the past year - the gaudy Shingon-shu temples with their colourful paintings and such.

 

What do you practice here? Where is everybody? I asked. "Oh, we practice the Dharma. Everyone is at work today." he said. "Where are the ritual alters and such?" I asked. "Oh, no dancing here, only practice." he answered. He handed me a copy of Dōgen's Shōbōgenzō to keep and read.

 

I went back to visit soon after during his practice. They were just sitting there! No arduous rituals, no trekking through the mountains, no chanting long hard to remember sutras or performing magical hand gestures. "Where are the rituals? Don't you have any chanting?" I asked. "Oh, we have rituals." he replied. "We wake up, get dressed, do our chores, eat our meals, sit in meditation, go to work, come back, sit some more, bathe, eat, shit, and go to sleep." "Huh? That's it?" "Oh no, it's not quite that simple. You see the next day we have to do it all over again, it's never ending!"

 

Life is full of ritual, why add more to it?

 

Relying on anything other than your own intellect, adding superstitious magical rituals is exactly what the Brahmins were doing at the time when the Buddha discovered his simple way of arriving at the truth. The Buddha was trying to get them all to give up their gods and superstitons. He wanted them to realise for themselves, without any external powers clouding things over.

 

Certainly, if it helps you to chant some small sutra, to ring a bell, tap on a drum, or such then go ahead. Even in some Zendō there are some little things like that. But don't be placing any importance on these. They serve no real purpose.

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...

I went back to visit soon after during his practice. They were just sitting there! No arduous rituals, no trekking through the mountains, no chanting long hard to remember sutras or performing magical hand gestures. "Where are the rituals? Don't you have any chanting?" I asked. "Oh, we have rituals." he replied. "We wake up, get dressed, do our chores, eat our meals, sit in meditation, go to work, come back, sit some more, bathe, eat, shit, and go to sleep." "Huh? That's it?" "Oh no, it's not quite that simple. You see the next day we have to do it all over again, it's never ending!"

...

:lmao:

 

Jun... It was the best post from you so far. I loved it.

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Jun... It was the best post from you so far. I loved it.

I agree. That story was right on the money in my opinion Jun.

 

It made me feel that perhaps one could be following the teachings of the Buddha and not even know it.

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Then one day I came across an old man tilling a field ...

 

Fabulous post!

 

I think though, that dancing the dance is often part of recognising the steps for what they are. I went through a stage of being annoyed with myself each time I realised something - until I realised that this process seems to part of really knowing.

 

In protestant christianity I found there to be a tendency to make a 'ritual' out of having no rituals, so that the truth they were trying to convey would become obscured by the need to adhere to the 'no rituals' rules.

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Not so good with book recommendations, but I liked Access To Insight which is commited to trying to translate the Tipitaka, or the Pali Cannon. It's Theravada Buddhism based, but it's also got a lot of good in depth articles on some of the more confusing aspects of Buddhism for us Westerners.

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It's silly when I repeat it, but one of my first most "awake" moments happened when I worked in a gas-station. I had previous moments but always when I was focused on them. This one was born from the moment before I knew it.

 

Every night, around 3am, I had to mop the floor in the gas-station. A job I did every night and then again the next night. It was just something I did but never really noticed. That night I was mopping, in the candy aisle not that it matters, and suddenly I saw the reflection of the shelves in the clean floor... and saw the little drops from the mop, spoiling the perfect reflection, and suddenly I was just there... mopping the floor and fully being in the experience of mopping the floor. And, somewhere deep inside, I understood.

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It's silly when I repeat it, but one of my first most "awake" moments happened when I worked in a gas-station. I had previous moments but always when I was focused on them. This one was born from the moment before I knew it.

 

Every night, around 3am, I had to mop the floor in the gas-station. A job I did every night and then again the next night. It was just something I did but never really noticed. That night I was mopping, in the candy aisle not that it matters, and suddenly I saw the reflection of the shelves in the clean floor... and saw the little drops from the mop, spoiling the perfect reflection, and suddenly I was just there... mopping the floor and fully being in the experience of mopping the floor. And, somewhere deep inside, I understood.

 

:D

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It made me feel that perhaps one could be following the teachings of the Buddha and not even know it.

 

The Zen master Hui-neng thirteen hundred years ago said,

"The mind of the Buddha is inherent in the essence of all human beings. It is not necessary to seek it out, or to find a teacher to reveal it. If you insist that a teacher is necessary to attain liberation, you are wrong. Why? Because the teacher is within your own mind and enlightens you spontaneously!"

 

There are many Zen Buddhists on this board - they just don't know it yet.

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Yes, I've heard that story before. The story of the Buddha from a Christian context, how original.

 

Why not? The international face of Buddhism is the Story of Buddha from a Tibetan Bonpo context....

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Yes, I've heard that story before. The story of the Buddha from a Christian context, how original.

 

Why not? The international face of Buddhism is the Story of Buddha from a Tibetan Bonpo context....

 

Unfortunately.

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IF China hadn't stomped the hornet's nest, then that wouldn't be the case... however, the point of the post is cultural colouring of the philosophy. Chances are that Tibetan Buddhism isn't a whole lot different to later Indian just prior to the Murghal's wiping it out in one the most efficient genocides not involving the Roman Catholic Church...

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